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Updated, part 2: SCOTUS issues Hobby Lobby ruling

Updated, part 2: SCOTUS issues Hobby Lobby ruling

Today, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the case brought against the contraception mandate in the new Affordable Care Act.

Written by Samuel Alito, the Court decided in a 5-4 decision that closely held corporations owned by religious people do not have to provide contraception they disagree with.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Kennedy expanded the thinking of the majority to explain that the ruling is limited to contraception only–it does not extend to other medical procedures that would conceivably be religiously objectionable, such as blood transfusions or organ donation.

Check out the SCOTUS blog for excellent ongoing coverage.


Here’s the ruling in its entirety:

The most important paragraphs, according to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner, are these:

For all these reasons, we hold that a federal regulation’s restriction on the activities of a for-profit closely held corporation must comply with RFRA.30


Because RFRA applies in these cases, we must next ask whether the HHS contraceptive mandate “substantially burden[s]” the exercise of religion. 42 U. S. C. §2000bb– 1(a). We have little trouble concluding that it does.


The dissent in the case, which was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, begins at page 61 and can be found here.

The court basically split along ideological lines, and Justices Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor all sided with her.

In her dissent, she basically argues that corporations do not have religion, ergo, they are not entitled to the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was intended to protect the freedoms of religion for those who exercise it.

She also points out that the separation between religious communities and for-profit businesses has been around since the beginning of jurisprudence–collapsing it now would be a really questionable decision.

Religious organiza- tions exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the

work force of for-profit corporations. …The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

In other words, Justice Ginsberg very much disagrees with the other justices.


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Lisa Shirley Jones

This ruling today has made me so so so cynical… about being a Christian and an American. The ignorance. Here in Oklahoma City, the headquarters of Hobby Lobby, people that I met actually thought Hobby Lobby was going to close down if the ruling was against them. The ignorance. Being on the “same side” as these atrocious people makes me sick. How can you use your religion to save yourself money and sleep at night???? I hope that history will judge, or else history is a dystopian future where I, as a woman, have no rights.


Disgusted. Combined w/ the decision against abortion clinic buffer zones, and GOP efforts in the states to FORCE abortion providers to close, conservatives are saying to women, “HAVE BABIES, DAMMIT…or else turn to the nearest coat hanger.”

“Pro-Life” my @ss.

JC Fisher

How long, Lord? How long will the wicked prosper? 🙁

Paul Woodrum

Will no one rid us of this troublesome court? As for Clinton, one begins to wonder how many other bad bills he approved in addition to RFRA and DOMA.

Brian Kneeland

If a corporation can hold religious beliefs then it had better get the entire corporation to Church on Sunday!

John B. Chilton

Let’s not forget the roots of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

In Smith the Court upheld the state of Oregon’s refusal to give unemployment benefits to two Native Americans fired from their jobs at a rehab clinic after testing positive for mescaline, the main psychoactive compound in the peyote cactus, which they used in a religious ceremony. Peyote use has been a common practice in Native American tribes for centuries. It was integrated with Christianity into what is now known as the Native American Church.[7]

The Smith decision outraged the public. Many groups came together. Both liberal (like the American Civil Liberties Union) and conservative groups (like the Traditional Values Coalition) as well as other groups such as the Christian Legal Society, the American Jewish Congress, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and the National Association of Evangelicals joined forces to support RFRA, which would reinstate the Sherbert Test, overturning laws if they burden a religion.[8] The act, which was Congress’s reaction to the Lyng and Smith cases, passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97 to 3 and was signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

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